CONNECT 2020: Role of Mast Cells in Neuroinflammatory Syndrome ~ Theoharis C. Theoharides, MD, PhD




Increasing reports indicate that neuroinflammation is involved in many diseases. We first proposed and provided evidence that the unique immune cells, mast cells, originally thought to participate only in allergic reactions, secrete mediators without histamine and hence play a key role in the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory diseases that collectively affect 1:10 persons and had eluded us to date such as: Autism spectrum disorder, Chronic inflammatory response syndrome, Environmental disease, Fibromyalgia, Interstitial cystitis, Mast cell activation syndrome, Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, Pediatric acute neuropsychiatric syndrome and Childhood Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (CMSIS) associated with COVID-19. We present evidence that mast cells can be triggered by neuropeptides, stress and toxins leading to activation of microglia in the brain, and that these processes can be inhibited by two natural anti-inflammatory cytokines, IL-37 and IL-38, as well as the natural flavonoids luteolin and methoxyluteolin.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Theoharides is Professor of Pharmacology and Internal Medicine, as well as Director of Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery, in the Department of Immunology at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. He was born in Thessaloniki, Greece, and graduated with Honors from Anatolia College. He received all his degrees from Yale University (BA, cum laude in Biology and History of Medicine, MS, MPhil, PhD, MD), and was awarded the Dean’s Research Award and the Winternitz Price in Pathology. He trained in internal medicine at New England Medical Center, which awarded him the Oliver Smith Award “recognizing excellence, compassion and service.” He also received a Certificate in Global Leadership from the Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He has been serving as the Clinical Pharmacologist of the Massachusetts Drug Formulary Commission continuously since 1986. In Greece, he served on the Supreme Advisory Health Councils of the Ministries of Health and of Social Welfare, as well as on the Board of Directors of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Technology. He Chaired an International Committee appointed by the Hellenic Ministries of Education and Health for the establishment of an independent medical school in Greece, and he is a member of the International Advisory Committee for the University of Cyprus School of Medicine. He is also the Director of Health Science Programs and Research for the American College of Greece. He is a member of 15 academies and scientific societies. He was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society and the Rare Diseases Hall of Fame.  He has received the Tufts Excellence in Teaching ten times, the Tufts Distinguished Faculty Recognition Award twice, the Tufts Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence, and the Dr. George Papanicolau Award. He has also been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Medicine from Athens University and an Honorary Doctor of Sciences from Hellenic-American University, as well as the 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.  Dr. Theoharides is a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. In 2020, he was inducted in the World Academy of Sciences. For his humanitarian efforts, he honored with Boston Mayor’s Community Award, the 2018 Distinguished Humanitarian Award (Marquis Who is Who), and he was recognized as “Archon” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Dr. Theoharides first showed that mast cells, known for causing allergic reactions, are critical for inflammation, especially in the brain, and are involved in a number of inflammatory conditions that worsen with stress such as allergies, asthma, autism spectrum disorder, eczema, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, mast cell activation syndrome, migraines, multiple sclerosis, myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome and psoriasis. He has published 450 scientific papers (JBC, JACI, JPET, NEJM, Nature, PNAS, Science) with 36,297 citations (h-index 91) and 3 textbooks. He has been placed in the top 5% of authors most cited in pharmacological and immunological journals. Dr. Theoharides is also the Scientific Director of Algonot, LLC (Sarasota, FL) and has helped formulate unique dietary supplements (e.g. ArthroSoft®, BrainGain®, CystoProtek®, FibroProtek®, NeuroProtek®, PureLut®) and a skin lotion (GentleDerm®) containing the novel anti-inflammatory flavonoids, luteolin and tetramethoxyluteolin. He has received 37 patents and trademarks, including some covering the use of luteolin in brain inflammation and autism: US 8,268,365 (09/18/12); US 9,050,275 (06/09/15); US 9,176,146 (11/03/15). He is also the President of the nonprofit company

*Certified by the WANP for 1 Category 1 continuing education credit for Washington NDs*

(Originally presented on October 11, 2020)